Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Elizabeth Edwards on spirits passing

Rest in peace, Elizabeth Edwards
NPR replayed a segment this morning of an Renee Montagne's interview of Elizabeth Edwards a few years ago. Edwards spoke about the Obon festival honoring the dead (she spent time in Japan as a child). Here is an excerpt from her book, Saving Graces: 

"The Buddhists believe that at death the spirits cross the river to the other side...To guide the dead back across the water, Japanese families use tiny straw boats, and in the bow they place a candle to light the way. To entice the dead into their boats, the living leave messages and elaborate treats...The little boats would be set out on the river, and the landscape would gleam with the tiny flames and then gleam again with reflection of those flames in the water and on the white paper sails of some of the boats. The beauty and the glory of this image never left me...the sense that all these souls, thousands of them, were being led by the delicacies their families had prepared and by the lights in their bows glistening above the black water, and that all of the souls were traveling together to be on the other side of the river, together. Even if in life they may not have known each other these souls crossing back across the river formed a great and glorious, even a joyous, community."

Spirits crossing the river, Obon festival, Japan
In the video tribute below, Edwards says that people are often afraid to speak to friends and family who have lost a loved one, because they are afraid that they will remind them of their death. However, recalling memories of the loved one in fact reminds the survivors that the person lived, which is a true gift. Edwards was not afraid of death because she looked forward to reuniting with her son Wade.

The world now grieves a wonderful, eloquent advocate for grief awareness and social justice (she was more liberal than her philandering husband) and a true hero in her own right.

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